Surprising Advice: Why a Disaster Tabletop Exercise Will Improve Your Current Healthcare IT Performance

Karen Clark

Disaster recovery (DR) planning: We all know we should do it, we all know it’s important. But for many of us, as the saying goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. It often gets squeezed in as a checklist “must do” to satisfy auditors and gets about as much love as that one end-user who forgets his password. Every. Dang. Week.

It’s time to change your thinking about DR planning. Start by changing the name to “Performance Improvement Planning” and you’re on your way. Here are some points to think about to help your healthcare organization get there:

  1. Backups—the red-headed stepchild. Ok, you’ve got backups on various media, you have (sort of) a plan on how you’ll restore them if it all goes to hades. But how has your healthcare organization’s environment changed since you last set that up? Are you able to access legacy media? Have you updated storage and now can do (faster) storage-based “snapshots/replays” instead of VM snaps? You may have just bought yourself several hours in overnight processing, my friend.

  2. Where do you store those backups? With all the cloud options available out there– and the fast Internet pipes we all have—why not leverage some cheap storage in the cloud, and free up some local space for local work? Not only that, but with all these options comes the opportunity to back your healthcare organization’s data up in a cloud destination that is secure and won’t cost you a fortune to get that data back out when you need it.

  3. You probably maintain a voice over IP (VoIP) system. Would your users like the ease of that system when out of the office? Leverage that feature and you now have a Communication Plan for a disaster plus some happy, remote users.

  4. Data kingdoms. We all have them. Members of your team naturally gravitate towards certain areas and develop specific knowledge in that area. Running a tabletop—and making that guy stay out of the room during the exercise—will identify areas where you have a “knowledge silo” and need to intentionally get other team members up to speed. That helps you with day-to-day operations when staff are out on vacation or sick. Approaching yourhealthcare organization’s DR tabletop as an exercise in a self-audit of your daily operations means that you and your team will get value from time spent—and you may learn a little in the process.

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